Ethel M. Smith
is honored with a Medium Paver from Robert Smith, Richard Smith, and Kelly Smith Tunney.
It's wholly appropriate to honor my mother, Ethel Smith, in the WSU Plaza of Heroines. Both of my parents have had a long association with the University, being actively involved as students, teachers and articulate supporters.
My mother surprised the family by somehow finding time in her schedule to complete a Master's degree in Education at Wichita State when she was past 60 years of age. Yes, she did struggle with the statistics course, as I recall her asking me for assistance. She graduated near the top of her class and was proud of it! Ever since I can remember growing up, we have had family activities that involved WSU, all the way from youth lessons involving dance and music through attendance at sporting and special events. I graduated from WSU in 1965 at the time my parents were active in helping guide the University to become part of the state system.
My mother has been devoted to both family and the community. She was born on a farm in eastern Kansas, attended Kansas University, and taught public school prior to marriage. After WWII the family moved to Wichita. My mother's compassion and caring for others drew her to become involved in countless Wichita organizations where she served as member, officer and, in many cases, the organization's principal leader. She has been a frequent advocate for social justice and fair treatment, particularly on women's issues.
I don't know the names of all the organizations my mother served, as she sought simple service to others, not fame. Within the last 20 years, I recall my mother has been active in the YWCA/YMCA, Big Sisters Big Brothers, Friendship Force, Wichita Art Museum, League of Women Voters, Eastern Star, AAUW, and a number of organizations that provide aid to distressed women. I suspect that among those active in Wichita civic affairs, many know about my mother's personal charm and accomplishments.
To me, the honoring of my mother is simply to say from all whom have known her, "thank you" for your caring, concern, and unselfish sharing that improved our lives.
August 31, 1998